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Get Creative with History

Students will write a comic strip or graphic novel about a historical topic that features someone whose contributions have been forgotten over time. Their plots will incorporate related objects found at Smithsonian museums.

PROCESS:

  1. Display the original version of this Smithsonian article. As a class, review the two pages from the graphic novel, The Wrong Wrights. Invite students to comment on what they see. 
  2. Guide the class to recognize that comics and graphic novels have a narrator, characters, dialogue and descriptions. They also have a plot that tells about a sequence of events and how the action finally comes to an end. These are the basic elements of any narrative text. But in comic books and graphic novels, the writer presents the information in a fun, visual way. 
  3. Have students select a historical topic that interests them. Instruct them to explore the Smithsonian's online resources to identify museum objects related to that topic. Challenge them to identify someone connected to the topic whose contributions have been forgotten over time.
  4. Give students time to write a comic strip or short graphic novel featuring that person. Encourage them to search for creative ways to include the Smithsonian resources they found.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their stories with the class. Instruct classmates to identify and discuss how the authors incorporated museum objects into the plot. Encourage students to share what they learned about the forgotten person featured in the story.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON: 

Grades 3-4:
Divide the class into small groups. Encourage group members to select a historical topic they are all familiar with. Give groups time to plan and complete a six-panel comic strip. Instruct them to incorporate at least three Smithsonian objects into the plot. If students are unable to identify an important person whose contributions have been forgotten, allow them to create a character to feature in their story. Provide suggestions or assistance as needed.

Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Encourage group members to select a historical topic they are all familiar with. Give groups time to create a 12-panel comic strip. Instruct them to incorporate at least five Smithsonian objects into the plot. Challenge groups to feature a real person whose contributions have been forgotten. Provide assistance as needed.

Grades 7-8:
Have students complete the project with a partner. Recommend that they choose a historical topic that they found to be challenging or hard to understand during the year. Encourage students to conduct research to learn more about the topic. Then give pairs time to create a short graphic novel that includes at least six Smithsonian objects and features a real person whose contributions have been forgotten. 

Grades 9-10:
Instruct students to select a historical topic that they found to be challenging or hard to understand during the year. Give them time to conduct research to learn more about the topic. Then have each student create a short graphic novel that includes at least six Smithsonian objects, features a real person whose contributions have been forgotten and is set in one of the Smithsonian museums.